Jun 1 2011

The God Who Doesn’t Get In A Hurry

Last Friday while photographing in the Red River Gorge National Geological Area I had a chance to visit two of the area’s most popular arches—Princess Arch and Rock Bridge.  The Red River Gorge has numerous arches, more than any other location east of the Mississippi River.  It is a wonderful place to ponder the forces which can impact a landscape such as this.  Over thousands of years wind, rain, and in some cases the flow of creeks cause the erosion that forms the magnificent arches.  The arches we see today are still being shaped by these elements.  Over time these arches will likely cease to exist; they will succumb to the forces of nature while yet other arches form.

It is difficult for me to comprehend the length of time it takes nature to form geologic features like arches, hoodoos, natural bridges and buttes.  I just know that it takes a very long time.  We may be used to seeing manmade structures completed in short periods of time but nature tends to work on a much slower scale.  What is true of nature, I have discovered, is also true of God.  Time and time again I have been reminded that God typically works in what we would call “slow motion.”  I pray prayers asking for things that I cannot help but believe are God’s will and expect Him to respond immediately.  At times He does, but more often than not He doesn’t.   I, like most people, find this frustrating but I should not find it surprising.

I have been a serious student of Scripture for many years now.  I know from my studies of the Bible that God has a much different time table than we do.  There are countless examples in the biblical accounts where God seems incredibly slow to act.  For example, the Hebrews held captive in Egypt cry out to God for help but it is quite some time before He sends Moses to be their deliverer.  And apparently people long before me struggled with God’s slowness.  The Psalmist repeatedly asks God “how long” He is going to wait before He does one thing or another.  Job, too, wondered why God was so slow in getting around to answering his questions.

 In 2 Peter 3:8 we read, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”  Peter’s words reveal that the way we experience time contrasts greatly with the way God experiences time.  In today’s world, filled with so many time saving devices, we are used to immediate or quick results in many facets of our life.  That makes it even harder for us to deal with God’s propensity to take His time.  Our attitude tends to be “I want what I want and I want it now.”  The testimony of Scripture seems to indicate that God’s attitude is “I know what you need and I’ll provide for it when the time is right.”

The same Psalmist who frequently asked God “how long” He was going to take to act came to realize that when dealing with the Lord God Almighty we must learn to be patient.  At the conclusion of Psalm 27 he wrote: “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”  That’s good advice for all of us for whether He is creating beautiful arches or creating beautiful lives God does not get in a hurry. 


 (Top image: Princess Arch.  Bottom image: Rock Bridge)

May 29 2011

Names and Places

This past Friday I got to spend an entire day photographing.  Although I was able to photograph a variety of subjects the day began and ended taking pictures of waterfalls.  It started with a beautiful waterfall called Creation Falls in the Red River Gorge National Geological Area.  It concluded at another pretty waterfall, Broken Leg Falls, in the Daniel Boone National Forest.  The two waterfalls are very different but both are quite scenic and made delightful photographic subjects. 

On my way home I kept thinking about how the two waterfalls were both lovely but that their very different names seemed to affect my experience and enjoyment while in their presence.  The name “Creation Falls” put me in a contemplative mood and made me mindful that Creation was putting on a show for me.  It made me mindful of the Creator’s presence and prompted words of praise and thanksgiving.

The name “Broken Leg Falls,” however, had a different affect on me.  I’m not exactly sure how this falls got its name but after taking the perilous trail down to the bottom to photograph it I think I have a clue.  This waterfall was delightful to behold but for some reason its name bothered me and dampened my mood.  I confess I have the same feeling whenever I visit Dog Slaughter Falls near Corbin, Kentucky.  Shakespeare may have believed that a rose by any other name would have smelled just as sweet but I’m not convinced that names don’t influence how we feel about things or experience them.

On visits out West I have photographed Devil’s Tower in Wyoming and Devil’s Canyon in Montana.  In both places I couldn’t help but wonder what the devil had to do with either one.  Both the tower and the canyon are majestic examples of God’s Creation and deserve better names.  Why do so many places have the “Devil” added to it?  (The only place I’ve thought it appropriate was the “Devil’s Golf Course” in Death Valley National Park. If you’ve seen it, you know what I mean.)

Names are very important. The Scriptures certainly back this up.  In biblical times place names and people’s names typically told a story.  Names also were more than what someone might call you.  Names represented one’s character.  In fact, in numerous cases when a person’s  character changed he received a new name.  Abram becomes Abraham.  Jacob becomes Israel.  Simon becomes Peter.  Saul becomes Paul.  Names make a difference.  They did then; they do now.

Obviously, I cannot change the name of places I feel deserve a better moniker.  I’d like to, but I cannot.  I guess this boy born half way between Possum Trot and Monkey’s Eyebrow will just have to accept that some of God’s wonders have gotten stuck with rotten names and try not to let it interfere with my enjoyment of those wonders.  It won’t be easy but I’m going to try.  Wish me luck…


(Top image: Creation Falls.  Bottom image: Broken Leg Falls.)

Feb 9 2011


RRG Auxier Ridge 221Last night I had a chance to go to Lexington to see the University of Kentucky play Tennessee in basketball.  As a diehard U.K. fan this was a real treat for me.  The drive to Lexington and back is a pretty one.  At one point the road skirts one of my favorite places to photograph in Kentucky—the Red River Gorge National Geological Area.  As I drove through this area yesterday, and then again this morning,I couldn’t help but recall my last photo trip there and what happened shortly thereafter.

RRG Auxier Ridge 212Having been inspired by the beautiful images of Auxier Ridge taken by my friend John Snell, I decided in October to visit this incredible area of the Red River Gorge located in the Daniel Boone National Forest.  A friend and I left Pikeville early so that we could hike the two miles to the ridge for sunrise.  It was an incredible morning!  Fog lay in the valleys and as the sun began to rise there was glorious light cast on the colorful autumn foliage and sandstone ridges.  I was able to take numerous images I really like that day.  As the morning wore on we soon noticed that there was smoke rising from a number of campsites in the valley.  This caught our attention because due to a recent drought there was a fire ban in the Gorge at the time.

A couple of days later I learned that a fire broke out in the Gorge as a result of one of these illegal fires.  An estimated 1,650 acres of some of Kentucky’s most beautiful scenery was torched.   The trail to Auxier Ridge remains closed to this day  and will be dangerous for a long time to come.  Eventually the forest will recover but not in my lifetime.  This makes me sad. I’m sad for myself but also for all the other people who will not have the chance to view what I did this past October.

The Auxier Ridge fire reminds us that our actions do have consequences.  This fire should never have happened.  It’s not surprising it did, however, for it has been estimated that over 200 illegal fires were lit during the ban in the Gorge.   How could that many people be that selfish or irresponsible?

RRG Double Arch 242I ask this question and yet millions of people are treating the earth today in the same exact selfish and irresponsible way.  We have developed a mindset that anything that benefits “me” is permissible.  We feel we can pretty much do with the earth anything we want.  This past Sunday we read in my church Psalm 24:1 which says, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”  We really do need to remember that the earth is the Lord’s, not ours.  At a Creation Care workshop this past Saturday in Frankfort, KY, I heard Matthew Sleeth speak on our responsibility to the earth.  He asked if God were to give us a brand new car to borrow would we bring it back to him later on all beat up and battered?  Or would we try to take care of it?  I think the answer is obvious and, yet, we are constantly beating up the earth as though it were not a wonderful gift from God on loan to us.  I’m angry at those who caused the fire in the Red River Gorge this past fall.  There’s no excuse for their selfishness and irresponsibility.  But what my drive to Lexington and back has also reminded me of is that there is no excuse for my own selfishness and irresponsibility when it comes to seeing Creation as God’s gift to us and my call to be a faithful steward of it.  We simply cannot continue to live and act as though there are no consequences to our actions!


(I took these images of Auxier Ridge this past October; the day the fire started.)